New Release Review and Giveaway! VIABLE THREAT by Julie Rowe (Outbreak Task Force #1)

About the Book:

Special Forces soldier and medic Walter River would give anything to snatch more than a few seconds of down time to see if he can rattle the no-nonsense and incredibly hot Dr. Lloyd he’s protecting, but dodging explosions, snipers, and student radicals who’ve unleashed a lethal bio-engineered microorganism have made that almost impossible. Maybe he’ll get a chance—if he can figure out how to keep them both alive.

CDC microbiologist Ava Lloyd races to find a cure for a bio-terrorism organism sweeping El Paso. The few stolen moments with her very hunky bodyguard River have been explosive, but no matter how alluring he is, she can’t afford to get distracted. The clock is ticking, people are dying by the hundreds, and once this crisis is solved, they’ll both be off on their next assignment, thousands of miles apart.

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Excerpt:

She rested her head against the back of the seat and gave him a strange sort of sad smile. “You know what I’d like to do right now?”

He grunted and wagged his index finger. “That is a trick question.”

She laughed. “Yeah, I guess it is.”

He liked seeing the smile on her face. He liked seeing her face, period. “Tell me, Mouse, what would you like to do right now?”

She waved him closer, and he leaned toward her. She did it again, then put a hand on his shoulder and pulled herself up so she could whisper in his ear, “I’d like to take that respirator off you and kiss you, silly.”

She let go of him and resumed her previous position on the seat. He sat perfectly still. It took just about everything in him to not rip the mask off and grant her wish.

“I’m sorry,” she said, with as close to soundless as a voice could get. “I didn’t mean to make you feel uncomfortable.”

He looked at her and realized she thought he was embarrassed or some shit like that.

“I’m uncomfortable,” he murmured. “Because I’ve had a damned hard-on since I bandaged you up.” Her pupils widened, and her mouth dropped open. “When this is over, you can kiss any part of me you want for as long as you like, just as long as I can return the favor.”

“Oh,” she breathed out. When her tongue licked over her lips, he had to chain his hands to his sides to keep from grabbing her.

Though a blush heated her cheeks, tears filled her eyes until they spilled over and tracked down her face. “Chances are, that’s just a dream.”

It just about killed him to see her so sad. “Hey.” He couldn’t keep the growl out of his voice. “No Negative Nancys allowed on this trip.”

“I’ve got a headache, River. A fever can’t be far behind.”

“That happy bastard Henry is going to come up with some kind of magic potion that will kick this bug’s ass.”

“If that were possible, we’d know.”

“We’ve been so busy blowing shit up, we might not have been told.”

She slanted a disbelieving glance at him. “You just spoke with our boss. I think she would have mentioned any magic potions, if they’d been available.”

He ran his hands through his hair. “Could you work with me, Mouse? We’ve got a mass murderer to catch, and I need you ready and able to help reel in the son-of-a-bitch.”

“Ah, I see what you’re doing. Trying to put me in a good mood.”

“Jesus fuck, woman, you think I’d tell you how much I want you just to put you in a good mood?” He leaned down, grabbing the top of the seat on either side of her head. “Do I look like a motivational speaker?”

She studied him, her gaze flicking across his face and uniform. Covered in dirt, debris, and blood, he looked like a walking nightmare. “You look like a soldier on a mission.”

“That’s true, but not all of it.” He whispered, “I’ve got another mission. A personal one. You.”

Review:
Whoa–open up this book and hold on tight, because it’ll take you on one heck of a ride!

Seriously, Viable Threat is pretty much a disaster movie in book form–non-stop action. And the back-and-forth between Ava and River really added to the action-movie feel–their relationship was a whole lot of fun.

“Any idiot can go through life without making enemies,” River said cheerfully. “Congratulations. It takes character and intelligence to make people want to kill you.”

Truer words were never spoken, unless you count these:

“Just because a girl has an ugly cry doesn’t mean she isn’t busy plotting to kill you. In fact, if you’re the cause of the ugky cry, she probably is plotting to kill you.”

Okay, so that last one wasn’t actually directed at River, but at several points in the book, it certainly could have been!

I had so much fun reading this book–the characters, the non-stop action, the fact that I absolutely did not know who was behind it all until the characters figured it out–all good things. I can’t wait to see what the next book in the series brings!

Rating: 4 1/2 stars / A

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

 

Meet the Author:

Full-time author, freelance writer and workshop facilitator, Julie Rowe’s debut novel, Icebound, was released by Carina Press on Nov 14, 2011. Ten novels and eight anthologies have followed. Her most recent titles are the MEN OF ACTION boxed set and VIRAL JUSTICE book #3 of the Biological Response Team series. Julie’s articles and short stories have appeared in numerous magazines, such as Romantic Times Magazine, Today’s Parent magazine and Canadian Living. Julie facilitates business writing and communication workshops at Keyano College in her home city, and has presented writing workshops at conferences in the United States and Canada. She’s also a strong supporter of life long learning and moderates a free announcement loop for the promotion of online classes, workshops and webinars

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New Release Review and Giveaway! THE DOCTOR’S REDEMPTION by Victoria James (Shadow Creek, Montana #3)

 

About the Book:

Gwen Bailey has been busy taking care of everyone but herself. After a tragedy tore her family apart, she put her dreams aside to be with family. Now that her life is getting back on track, and her new Chocolaterie is open, she can concentrate on snagging the handsome, mysterious customer who has her dreaming about her own happily-ever-after…

Doctor Luke Thomson has spent the last five years filled with guilt. He hopes to make amends in Shadow Creek, however he doesn’t count on falling for the adorable and gorgeous Gwen Bailey. He vows to not get involved with her, but she’s too sweet to resist. It’s only a matter of time, though, before the truth comes out. Luke knows there’s no way Gwen will look at him the same way once she discovers his secret…

Review:

Gwen finally gets her muffin man!

This was a cute story, though it wasn’t without its issues. Both Gwen and Luke’s obsessions with the past had a tendency to overwhelm the romantic plot, which was unfortunate. It was a lot of fun to see the couples from books 1 and 2 again, though (plus Maggie!) and there were a lot of cute bits, especially in the beginning, that made me smile.

Here’s hoping Ms. James takes us back to Shadow Creek again–I’ll be there!

Rating: 3 stars / C+

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

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Check out the other books in the Shadow Creek, Montana series:

Meet the Author:

Victoria James is a romance writer living near Toronto. She is a mother to two young children, one very disorderly feline, and wife to her very own hero. Victoria attended Queen’s University and graduated with a degree in English Literature. She then earned a degree in Interior Design. After the birth of herVi first child she began pursuing her life-long passion of writing. Her dream of being a published romance author was realized by Entangled in 2012. Victoria is living her dream— staying home with her children and conjuring up happy endings for her characters. Victoria would love to hear from her readers! You can visit her at www.victoriajames.ca or Twitter @vicjames101 or send her an email at Victoria@victoriajames.ca.

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New Release and Giveaway! APLHA SQUAD: INFILTRATOR by Lorelei Moone (Alpha Squad #3)


Alpha Squad: Infiltrator
by Lorelei Moone
Alpha Squad #3
Publication Date: May 19, 2017
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance, Shifters

SYNOPSIS:

For love or for honor? Sometimes being fated to each other just isn’t enough.

For the past six months, wolf shifter Thomas Blackwood has been serving two masters. He believes in Alpha Squad’s mission to help the newly outed shifter population integrate into human society, and has done his best to contribute to its success. At the same time, he’s been reporting on the squad’s activities to his alpha back home. But everything changes when the squad is sent in to investigate a string of crimes with a pack of renegade wolves right at the center of the case. Suddenly Thomas must choose: follow his alpha’s orders and kill the investigation before it even starts, or remain true to Alpha Squad’s calling and uncover the truth; whether it implicates members of his own species or not.

And that’s not even the worst part: the woman he’s been admiring from afar since joining the squad already doesn’t give him the time of day. What would Private Callahan think of him if she knew he was a traitor?

Private Jill Callahan has been doing her utmost to ignore the one Alpha Squad member who could turn her world upside-down: Thomas Blackwood. From the moment the handsome wolf shifter arrived on base, her emotions have been trying to get the better of her. So in the interest of maintaining her professionalism, she has been avoiding him completely.

When Blackwood starts acting suspiciously, and nobody seems to notice it but her, Jill no longer has that luxury. She feels compelled to investigate what’s really going on and if it ends in heartbreak, then so be it.

Jill and Thomas’s loyalties are tested when they realize why they haven’t been able to shake their attraction to each other. They’re meant for each other, but sometimes things just aren’t so simple. The mission – and the squad – must come first.

Join Alpha Squad in this steamy paranormal romance you won’t want to put down. If you like Alpha City by Bryce Evans or Bear Patrol by Scarlett Grove, then you will love the Alpha Squad Series by Lorelei Moone!

EXCERPT:

Private Callahan.

The petite and quiet assistant to Major Williams was a constant influence on his mood. He couldn’t explain quite how it worked, but every time Thomas caught a glimpse of her, his heart sang. If she inadvertently looked in his direction, his nerves surged.

If by chance she failed to cross paths with him on any given day, his day was essentially ruined.

He’d admired her from afar ever since his arrival on base all those months ago. It was a bit creepy, how fixated he was on her. Like a stalker, he watched out for her, and often caught himself when his eyes lingered on her just a bit too long for comfort.

At least nobody had suspected anything, except maybe the object of his desire herself.

Private Callahan had barely spoken a word to him in six months. She made sure never to come too near or be alone with him. Whenever he was around, she seemed to act as though he was infected with a dangerous disease. She wasn’t all wrong, of course. Even though she was only human, her instincts had picked up on his obsession and as a result, she was always on defense with him.

He wasn’t sure whether to be impressed by her keen intuition or feel slighted.

Still, no matter how frustrated he sometimes became by her standoffish behavior, he could not hold it against her for long. She remained ever-perfect; a brunette goddess without a single flaw. In his mind, she could do no wrong; it was him who was at fault. He’d brought all of this on himself by acting like a complete tool around her.

“Blackwood, report to Major Williams’ office,” a stern voice interrupted his thoughts. He looked up to find Eric King, the major’s second-in-command, staring at him with his arms folded.

“I’ll be right there,” Thomas mumbled, while avoiding eye contact with the bear shifter, as was wolf custom when addressed by one’s superiors.

For but a split second, he wondered what the major wanted to see him about. The second and much more pressing thing on his mind was whether Private Callahan would be in Major Williams’ office. He hoped so.

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ABOUT LORELEI MOONE:

Lorelei Moone is an up-and-coming author of paranormal romance based in London. A lover of all things sweet, and caffeinated, when she’s not writing about sexy bear shifters and their strong-willed curvaceous love interests, Lorelei can be found baking cookies or cakes for her family.

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New Release Review and Giveaway! ROMANCING THE BACHELOR by Diane Alberts (Hamilton Family #2)

He’s not going to know what hit him…


ROMANCING THE BACHELOR
Hamilton Family #2
Diane Alberts
Releasing May 15th, 2017
Entangled Indulgence

 

Eric Hamilton isn’t looking for love. Hell, he isn’t even looking for a girl. He has a five-year plan, and he’s one hundred percent focused on that. But then Shelby walks into his life, and suddenly, he can’t think about anything else. Unfortunately for him, she hates his guts, and wants nothing to do with him. But he’s a man who loves a challenge.

Shelby Jefferson can’t wait to get out of the city, and back to her country roots. She moved to Atlanta for a guy who promptly left her, and the last thing she wants is to fall for another man who might make her want to stay. But Eric is nothing if not persistent, and before long she’s inside his arms, in his bed, and she’s falling for him. Hard. But when history repeats itself, and she has to choose between a man and herself––again.

He patted his pockets and turned around to pick up his jacket. His muscles flexed under his shirt, something the fabric did nothing to hide. He wore a gray suit, and the pants hugged his rear. And when he turned around…sweet baby Jesus.

It hugged other things, too.

Things she’d been without for over two years now.

He faced her and froze. He stared at her again, taking in her red dress, and the heels she’d carefully put on earlier. She never wore heels. Or tight dresses. But tonight…

What was she doing?

This was a horrible idea.

“Christ, Shelby, you’re beautiful.” He ran his knuckles down her bare arm, leaving behind a tingling sensation that quickly turned into red-hot need. His nostrils flared, and he stepped closer, reading her reaction to him like an open book and clearly liking what he saw. “I want to kiss you. Right here. Right now.”

Her stomach tightened in response, and she pressed a hand to it as her breath quickened. It didn’t help. Nothing would. Nothing except…him. He seemed unaware of her internal struggle as he rested a hand on her lower back. His touch burned through the fabric, scorching her skin, and he stepped closer. His cologne teased her nose, and she breathed it in, swaying closer.

That was all it took.

He lowered his face, his mouth an inch from hers as he—

No. No, no, no, no.

“Can I have a second, please?” she blurted as she sidestepped him.

He frowned, letting go of her instantly, his forehead wrinkled with confusion. “Yes, of course.”

She bolted into the bathroom, closing the door and taking deep breaths. The room spun, and all she could think, all she could feel, was his hand on her, and her reaction to it.

This was a bad idea.

Horrible.

Yet, if she didn’t see this through, if she didn’t show him she was the wrong girl for him in the most obvious way possible, then he’d keep throwing those heated stares her way, like he had today in court, and he’d haunt her forever.

Eventually, if he kept staring at her like he was starving and she was his next meal, she’d give in and let him win gobble her up. She couldn’t let that happen.

This had to end tonight.

“Shelby?” he called out, knocking lightly on the door. “Look, if you changed your mind, we can just cancel the date and—”

She opened the door, meeting his eyes. “I didn’t change my mind. I just”—needed a second to breathe—“had to powder my nose again. My makeup was uneven.”

He eyed her suspiciously but stepped aside so she could come out. “If you’re sure. I’d never want you to think you had to go out with me. If you’re not interested, then I’ll go home. No harm done. I’ll leave you alone.”

But he wouldn’t. Not really.

She had to make him not want her anymore.

A fun read!

I really enjoyed both Eric and Shelby’s early relationship (she won’t give him the time of day, he’s determined to win her over like a gentleman instead of his usual manwh*rish persona) and their “friendship”–because man, can he pull out all the stops when he wants to, and even though Shelby really is pretty wowed by him (abs. And butt. And actually a nice guy in there somewhere) she still gives even better than she gets in their relationship. And though he’s never done it before, Eric does give a good grovel.

You gotta love a good grovel.

Which admittedly he wouldn’t have needed if he hadn’t turned into a total tool at about 80%–even though what seemed like it was going to be their black moment was caused by a non-communication issue (not my favorite plot device, but here it was fairly believable) was Eric content with that? Oh, no–he had to take it to the next level of WTFery and nearly lost me–but the aforementioned groveling saved him and the story.

Romancing the Bachelor is the second in the Hamilton Family series, but worked just fine as a standalone.

Rating: 4 stars / B+

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

Diane Alberts is a USA TODAY bestselling Contemporary Romance author with Entangled Publishing. Under the name Jen McLaughlin, she also writes New York Times, USA TODAY, and Wall Street Journal bestselling books with Penguin Random House. She was mentioned in Forbes alongside E. L. James as one of the breakout independent authors to dominate the bestselling lists. Diane is represented by Louise Fury of The Bent Agency.
 

 

New Release and Giveaway! BRAZILIAN CAPTURE by Carmen Falcone (The Brazilians #2)


Brazilian Capture
by Carmen Falcone
Publication Date: May 22, 2017
Genres: Adult, Entangled: Ignite, Contemporary, Romance

SYNOPSIS:

Financier turned activist Emanuel Duarte has promised he would find the one witness who can testify against real estate developer Silas Lancaster. Sick of having every attempt at exposing Silas shut down, Emanuel wants to honor a promise he made, and takes from his opponent what matters most—his beautiful daughter Erika. Only he gets more than he bargained for with the tempting—and frustrating—woman.

Fundraiser and socialite Erika Lancaster can’t believe she’s been kidnapped. Her sexy captor is feeding her lies about her father that she refuses to swallow. Emanuel’s plans will hurt her and ruin her mother’s legacy—and that she can’t allow. Desperate to find a way out of the lush Brazilian jungle, she decides there’s only way to disarm the enemy—seduce him.

But her plan backfires and soon she realizes that seducing the enemy comes with a hefty price…loving the enemy simply isn’t an option.

 

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Excerpt:

He slapped the cuffs on her wrist, and she jumped. “The whole idea of me taking off my pants was because I wanted some normalcy. These shackles defeat the purpose, wouldn’t you agree?”

“These will guarantee you will still be in the same spot in the morning.”

“Why? Are you used to women racing out of your bed as soon as possible?” She managed to say it steadily.

He chuckled. “No, madam, I guarantee you there’s no fleeing from my bed. Ever.”

“How can I be so sure?” she said boldly, then licked her upper lip. A fire stoked in her belly, and she turned to face him. Restraint wouldn’t help her in the beginning, but if she got his trust—even on a sexual level—she would be one step closer to freedom. Her nipples puckered, and she didn’t know if it was because he excited her, or if the idea of using her sex appeal to escape did. Either way, she would keep at it. “Your type is more about taking than giving.” Not that she had any experience with super sexy kidnappers before.

His brows furrowed, and he propped himself on his elbow. A dark glow hit his eyes. “What are you doing?”

“Maybe I need a bedtime story.”

A smile played at his lips. “I have one for you.” He dipped his head closer, and she closed her eyes to soak in that wonderful manly scent. He talked into her ear, his breath causing the little hairs on the back of her neck to stand on end. She squirmed and anticipated his hands on her. Her breath caught in her dry throat. “Once upon a time, a sexy beautiful princess who lived in a land far, far away…” he started, and with his free hand, he tipped her chin.

Gathering all her strength, she opened her eyes and gazed at him. Wow. The man was gorgeous. She opened her mouth to speak, but hesitated. What could she say? In that moment, any reasoning or hidden agenda faded into the background. The fast beating of her heart surpassed the creaking from the old ceiling fan. Her heart throbbed in her ears, in her mouth, and in the most feminine part of her.

“Tell me more.”

He stroked her jaw, the touch light yet branding. She moaned. “The princess had a very naughty secret. She liked to get kinky with the henchman.”

A wave of heat spread across her cheeks and neck. The image of Emanuel splitting wood and guarding a palace settled in her head. She could see his strong biceps shifting, and sweat glistening over his dark olive skin.

He slid his hand down her neck. “At night, when everyone slept, he climbed up to her room and joined her in

bed. She always kept ready for him. Wet…and naked.”

A sigh flew past her lips. “What did he do to her?”

Emanuel sneaked his palm under her panties. She arched into him, wanting to lose herself in his caress and forget about anything else. “He touched her in the one place that was his alone, where it didn’t matter about her title, or his wrongdoings… When his finger entered her, it all came together.”

He palmed her hot sex. The scent of arousal found its way up to her nostrils. She lifted her head, in hopes he’d kiss her. But Emanuel digressed, withdrawing, his hand halted on the part of her that most needed attention.

“No…no…don’t stop. Please. I’ll do anything you want,” she said, unable to stop the words from spilling out of her. A lie, certainly, a small voice inside her alerted. Right? She wouldn’t need to do anything with him. Once he wanted more and uncuffed her, that would be a start. Maybe not this time, but soon. He would trust her.

ABOUT CARMEN FALCONE:

Carmen Falcone learned at an early age that fantasizing about fictional characters beats doing math homework any day. Brazilian by birth and traveler by nature, she moved to Central Texas after college and met her broody Swiss husband—living proof that opposites attract. She found in writing her deepest passion and the best excuse to avoid the healthy lifestyle everyone keeps talking about. When she’s not lost in the world of romance, she enjoys spending time with her two kids, being walked by her three crazy pugs, reading, catching up with friends, and chatting with random people in the checkout line.

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New Release and Giveaway! THE DISAPPEARANCE OF LADY EDITH by Christina McKnight (The Undaunted Debutantes #1)

Title: The Disappearance of Lady Edith
Series: The Undaunted Debutantes Series (Book One)
Author: Christina McKnight
Genre: Historical Romance, Regency England
Release Date: May 23, 2017
Word Count: 45,000

 

Synopsis:

One tragic night changed sensible, proper Lady Edith Pelton’s life: when her best friend fell to her death, pushed down a flight of stairs by a nefarious lord.  Now, Edith dedicates her time to watching the man she thinks is responsible, while gathering information to expose other scoundrels posing as gentlemen of honor about London. When her spying is noticed by a perfect stranger, Edith finds herself with two mysteries—what happened to her friend, and how to win the heart of this brilliantly handsome lord.

Triston Neville, Viscount Torrington, has been tasked with two duties for the upcoming Season: see that his sisters make the most of their debut, and avoid embroiling himself in another scandal. What he does not expect is the captivating, fair-haired beauty that literally falls into his path. When the mysterious Lady Edith suddenly disappears without a trace, Triston fears his past misdeeds may have returned to destroy his life once more.

Can Triston piece together the puzzle in time to save Edith and prove that his love is nothing less than honorable?

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Excerpt:

“I have seen many oxen with broader shoulders,”—she smirked, pulling back and leaning to the side as if to get a glimpse of his backside—“and far more accentuated hindquarters.”

She gulped.

No laughter remained as he narrowed his eyes on her. “Did you just compare my physique to that of a farm animal?”

Edith took a step back—damnation, she would not cower to him. “If you prefer, I can select another animal. A donkey, perhaps? They are well-known for their obstinacy. Or better yet, an African lion, I have read they are intimidating creatures.”

“You think me intimidating?” It was Torrington who took a step back this time, as if her words had wounded him. “Wait, do not answer that question—I have a far more important one: why do you keep appearing everywhere I am?”

“It is not I who keeps appearing,” Edith corrected. “I was minding my own business outside of Abercorn’s townhouse. You are the one who scared me from the tree. And you were the one who caught my eye in the ballroom. And I was enjoying an afternoon in the park when—“ She clamped her mouth shut.

“Enjoying an afternoon in the park until…you saw me and decided to follow?” he demanded. “I may very well be as large as an ox, or as stubborn as a donkey, or even as domineering as a lion, but at least I am not a snake—slithering and sneaking about, ready to bite and poison when the mood strikes.”

Edith gasped, covering her mouth with her hand.

“Oh, you find it belittling to be compared to a bloody animal?” he sneered. “Well, I find it insulting to be lied to, followed, and scrutinized by a woman I do not know.”

Edith sighed. “I have not been following you, I swear to it.”

Not a complete lie, or at least she hadn’t been at Lord Abercorn’s townhouse to spy on Triston—she allowed herself to think of him by his given name—nor had she attended the ball with Ophelia and Luci expecting to see him. And the park, well, that was rather serendipitous. She had decided to keep an eye on him, but she’d never thought to follow him out of London proper.

Edith glanced to the window, but the drapes were pulled securely shut. “The day must be growing late. My parents will surely be wondering where I am when I don’t arrive home on schedule.”

“I know what you are up to, Lady Edith Pelton.” His stance widened as he surveyed her from head to toe.

 

Pre-order the next books in The Undaunted Debutantes!

The Misfortune of Lady Lucianna

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The Misadventures of Lady Ophelia

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Author Bio:
Christina McKnight is a book lover turned writer. From a young age, her mother encouraged her to tell her own stories. She’s been writing ever since.

Christina enjoys a quiet life in Northern California with her family, her wine, and lots of coffee. Oh, and her books…don’t forget her books! Most days she can be found writing, reading, or traveling the great state of California.

 

You can visit her online at the following places: Website Facebook | Twitter Goodreads | Amazon

 

 

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The Sassy Book Lover – Review

It’s All About the Romance – Spotlight

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New Release Review and Giveaway! ROGUE by Brynley Blake (Phoenix Rising #1)

Today we have the blog tour for Rogue by Brynley Blake! Check out this fantastic new contemporary romance and grab your copy today!

About Rogue:

Reeling from the death of her daring Navy SEAL brother, reserved McKenzie Prescott decides to honor him in the only way she can think of–by finishing his bucket list. Suddenly, she’s doing things she’s never dreamed of–like jumping off waterfalls…and inviting the intoxicating stranger she meets in Las Vegas to help her with some of the more racy items on the list…

Noah Payne used to be a Navy SEAL…until his job cost him his family. Now he wants revenge, and he’s not above playing dirty to get it. His current mission—to find a missing shipment of guns—is the last piece of the puzzle. But his only lead is Liam Prescott’s bucket list. Noah figures that by getting close to Liam’s sister, McKenzie, he’ll soon get his hands on the list. Only keeping his hands off a suddenly sexy McKenzie is turning out to be the real challenge!


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Review:

Looking for a hot, steamy romance? Look no further–because Rogue‘s got hot steaminess in spades, with an undercurrent of romantic suspense. Don’t look too closely into the story’s details, though–the romance is a bit instalove, and the suspense brings up more questions than it answers. Still, it’s a quick read, and the underlying story is going to continue into the second book in the series, so if you’re planning on reading that one, you really should start with Rogue first.

Rating: 3 stars / C

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

About Brynley Blake:

A lifelong reader with a taste for adventure, Brynley Blake writes the writes the kind of books she likes to read: steamy contemporary romances featuring smart, sassy heroines with a sense of humor and strong, dominant alpha males who love their women a little feisty. She lives in Texas with her family and an assortment of pets, and loves rainy days, hot coffee, cold beer, red wine, traveling, and spending time with her family. She writes contemporary and erotic romance as Brynley Blake and Brynley Bush.

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A Character Profile and Giveaway for THE STAR IN THE MEADOW by Carla Kelly (The Spanish Brand #4)

“A romance in the middle of a really good Western novel.”
– Roundup Magazine

Book Cover

Character Profile: Marco Mondragón

The Spanish brand series was Marco’s story from the beginning, mainly because I “found” him in an obscure footnote in a Spanish borderlands history, which boiled down to this: “In the absence of sufficient law enforcement on the frontier of 18th century New Mexico, a royal colony, the juez de campo [brand inspector] also investigates petty crime.”

In The Double Cross, Marco is a man still bereft, after eight years and the shocking death of his entire family from cholera, while he was away fulfilling his official duties. He is too tired and heartsick to invest himself in finding another wife, which would mean more children, and the pain of possible trauma again. He can’t do it.

Because he is a conscientious man, he remains true to his obligations to the many servants and stockmen on his ranch, the Double Cross. He is afraid to open his heart again, until he meets Paloma Vega, someone who needs his help. When he finally realizes how much he needs her, he’s ready to try again.

All four books follow this dutiful, faithful man through nearly five years of slowly and carefully learning to love again, and slowly and carefully finding a way to nudge the colony toward a peace treaty with their most dangerous neighbors, the Kwahadi Comanche. Time and again he is forced to shove his own fears aside as he leads, cajoles, and at time forcefully moves toward the goal of peace.

Marco is a single-minded man dedicated to God, his colony, his duty to the Crown, his servants, and his second wife. In Paloma Vega he has found the right woman to share his trials and understand his trauma. She has her own fears; he has his. Together they forge a bond as strong as his ties to king, country and God.

Marco is a man of his times. Hardship is all he knows, but he finds solace in his religion. It fuels him when nothing else can. He depends upon Paloma, and later, Toshua, a former Comanche slave who becomes a valuable friend, and a connection to the fierce Kwahadi that he needs, if he is to fulfill the governor’s aim of peace.

Marco’s patient rebuilding of married live, love, children and home is challenged to the breaking point in The Star in the Meadow. He must decide whether to search for his missing wife or go with his Comanche friend to cement a century-long quest for peace. What he will discover is that the workers have been his stewardship through the years have their own code of loyalty.

Marco Mondragon has been a fascinating character to create and write. I’ll miss him and his colonial world.

About Carla Kelly:Author Pic

A well-known veteran of the romance writing field, Carla Kelly is the author of thirty-seven novels and three non-fiction works, as well as numerous short stories and articles for various publications. Carla’s interest in historical fiction is a byproduct of her lifelong study of history. She has a BA in Latin American History from Brigham Young University and an MA in Indian Wars History from University of Louisiana-Monroe.
Social media links (Camel Press Books): Facebook | Twitter

THE STAR IN THE MEADOW
by Carla Kelly

Series: The Spanish Brand, Book 4
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Camel Press
Publication Date: February 14, 2017

Will Marco choose love or duty?
Marco Mondragón and his wife Paloma are living hectic but happy lives at the Double Cross, on the edge of Comanchería. Five years after the death of Comanche leader Cuerno Verde, cautious diplomacy between the tribe and the colonists is underway to end Comanche raids into New Mexico. Paloma’s time has been fully consumed by her two toddlers and newborn son and Marco’s by spring planting.
The Seven Year Audit of 1784 arrives and with it comes auditor Fernando Ygnacio. After years of incarceration for a crime he did not commit, Señor Ygnacio is a broken man. Although his daughter Catalina is bitter about his mistreatment by his superiors, her storytelling abilities captivate the household, including a frequent visitor from the nearby presidio, El Teniente Joaquim Gasca, who has been undergoing his own reformation from rascal to leader.
Unknown to him, Marco has peculiar enemies plotting his downfall. When Paloma and Catalina set out on a visit to Marco’s sister, meant to give Paloma relief from her busy life, the women are kidnapped. Devastated, Marco is torn between love and duty. He yearns to search for his wife, but feels bound by colonial duties to accompany his friend Toshua to Río Napestle, where Comanches have gathered to debate the region’s fragile peace. In his absence from the Double Cross, will Joaquim Gasca and Toshua’s wife Eckapeta be able to find the missing women?
Excerpt:

 

“It’s hard for me to even imagine a peaceful room with no one barging in, demanding this and that.”

“I think you can imagine it quite well!” Catalina teased. “Start now by taking a nap.”

Paloma yawned and close her eyes. “I’ll never get to sleep this way,” she murmured, just moments before she did precisely that.

Catalina closed her eyes, too, thinking of years of smarts and slights and rudeness. For some reason she had turned to them for nourishment, letting the sourness of unfair treatment fill her belly. Maybe she lashed out first to keep meanness at bay. She took the idea one logical step forward; it might be time to stop. With a sigh of her own, she relaxed and rested her head against the side of the carriage.

She had no sense of time passing until she felt the spring sun high overhead. But that wasn’t what woke her.

The carriage had come to an abrupt halt. Catalina opened her eyes to see Chato the coachman through the small opening, but only dimly, because the overhang of the carriage roof was in shadow.

The shadow moved and she saw a knife sticking out of Chato’s neck. The shadow moved again and she saw a horseman, the cause of the shadow, beside the carriage now. She put her hand just above Paloma’s mouth and patted her arm.

“Something is happening,” she whispered.

Paloma opened her eyes and her own hand went immediately to her sleeping son in his cradle at her feet. She sat up carefully and sucked in her breath when she saw how the coachman leaned.

Both women clung together when the carriage door slammed open and a bearded man with dead eyes leaned inside. To their astonishment, he opened his mouth wide and his eyes wider and slammed the door shut. They listened to shouts of “Idiot! Fool! A mistake!”

Juanito began to stir and whimper. Paloma picked him up and hastily unbuttoned her camisa, nursing him to keep him silent.

“Eckapeta and I … we train the little ones not to cry,” she whispered, her blue eyes huge in her pale face. “Juanito is too young for such a lesson.” She bowed her head over her child, trying to feed him and protect him at the same time.

The pitiful gesture went straight to Catalina’s heart and shoved back her own fears. She reached for Paloma, as vulnerable now as a woman could ever be, and patted her shoulder.

“I’m going to find out what’s going on,” Catalina whispered, as she wondered at her sudden wellspring of bravery.

With amazing clarity, she knew someone had to protect Paloma and her baby, and there wasn’t anyone else around except her. For years her father had depended on her—perhaps too much—but that was nothing compared to this need, growing stronger by the second, to help someone even more vulnerable.

“I do this for you, Marco,” Catalina whispered under her breath.

Carla Kelly’s writing is masterful, and I can wholeheartedly recommend this whole series, and I believe you would enjoy each book more if you read them all. STAR IN THE MEADOW is a stellar conclusion which will reside on my keeper shelf.
– Roses Are Blue Blog
I love this series… Carla Kelly is my favorite modern author… She writes from accurate historical research and facts…plus the lady knows how to weave romance into her stories for my girly-side!”
– Patti, Goodreads Reviewer

Purchase Links

Other Books by the Author:

Don’t miss the other books in The Spanish Brand series by Carla Kelly.

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THE DOUBLE CROSS
Series: The Spanish Brand, Book 1
In the royal colony of New Mexico, 1780, Marco Mondragón is a brand inspector living next to the fierce Comanche. On a trip to Santa Fe, he meets Paloma Vega and rescues her from cruel relatives. He vows to find out if they stole the brand belonging to her parents.
“Carla Kelly’s vivid storytelling plunges the reader into a tense, hypnotic tale of love and courage in The Double Cross.”
– Diane Farr, bestselling author, Regency Romance and Young Adult fiction

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MARCO AND THE DEVIL’S BARGAIN
Series: The Spanish Brand, Book 2
Marco and his wife Paloma fight the scourge of smallpox by bravely venturing onto the Staked Plains, stronghold of the Comanche. As part of a devil’s bargain, they must put themselves at the mercy of these dangerous enemies and try to inoculate them.
“Though I didn’t read The Double Cross first, I still managed to fall head over heels for Marco and Paloma. That is a good testament to Ms. Kelly’s amazing writing.”
– Alexandra Anderson, All About Romance

Book Cover

PALOMA AND THE HORSE TRADERS
Series: The Spanish Brand, Book 3
At the end of the 18th century in the Spanish Colony of New Mexico, Marco and Paloma face a new threat to their ranch. To defeat Great Owl, a renegade Comanche, they form a ragtag army that includes a ghost from Paloma’s past.
“This book will take one’s breath away with the deep, emotional romance and highly likable characters.”
– RT Reviews

Giveaway

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Be one of three lucky winners:
$15 Gift Card (Amazon or Barnes & Noble)
2 x print copy of The Star in the Meadow
Contest runs from May 16 – June 5, 2017.

Tour Schedule

Follow the book tour from May 16 – June 5, 2017.
Get sneak peaks, excerpts, fun facts and other never-before-published info on The Star in the Meadow.
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Book Unleashed

New Release and Giveaway! NOTHING LIKE A DUKE by Jane Ashford (The Duke’s Sons #4)

Title: Nothing Like a Duke
Author: Jane Ashford
Series: The Duke’s Sons, #4
ISBN: 9781492621652
Pub date: May 2, 2017
Genre: Historical Romance

 

He wants her.

She has no intention of wanting him.

But even Flora has to admit…

There’s nothing like a Duke.

Lord Robert Gresham has given up all hope that the beautiful and independent Flora Jennings will ever take him seriously. He heads to an exclusive country house party to forget about the beauty haunting his thoughts.

Too bad the lady in question has no intention of being forgotten.

 

Excerpt:

A protruding bit of bramble caught the side of Flora’s pelisse. She twisted to reach for it, and a whole raft of briars shifted with her, entangling the other side of her skirts, her right arm, and the brim of her bonnet. If she pulled away, it would rip the cloth. She struggled a little; more thorns dug in. “Blast it, I suppose you were right, you wretched dog,” she exclaimed, and discovered that Plato was gone.

Flora lifted a hand to free her hat. The movement tipped another part of the bush, which swayed and seemed to grab at her. A second branch lodged in her bonnet. She felt several claw at her back. A stem lashed across her neck. That one drew blood. She tried to step back, and was pricked by more thorns, through her clothes, from all directions.

Flora went very still. She saw that the path petered out just ahead. Or perhaps this hadn’t been a path at all, but merely a deceptive opening in the vegetation. She hadn’t been paying attention. She tried again to move. She was trapped in a sea of briars. The thorns were long and wickedly barbed. They pricked the skin of her neck, her arm, her back, her side.

She became aware of a rustling in the leaves near her feet. What next? The badgers? Snakes? No, of course not snakes. It was far too cold.

A small black-furred head poked through an opening at the base of the briars. Evading the thorns with no visible effort, Plato emerged and stared up at her. “Oh, you’re back, are you?” said Flora. He sat down at her feet. “Come to gloat? Point out that if I’d followed you, I wouldn’t be in this predicament?”

Plato looked at her. Not judgmentally, because that was impossible.

“Go fetch help,” commanded Flora. The dog didn’t move. “Some clever gardeners. A footman from the house. Anyone. Go!”

“Plato? Where are you, you dratted animal?” called a voice nearby.

“Lord Robert?” she called.

There was a short silence. “Flora?”

“Yes. I’ve, ah, become entangled in some brambles. Plato doesn’t appear to care in the least. Or, actually, he’s staring at me as if it was all my fault.” She frowned down at the dog. “Does he ever blink? He’s really a bit uncanny, don’t you—”

Robert appeared on the path. “Good God!” He started forward.

“Be careful! It’s very easy to get caught. If you touch one branch, the whole mass moves.”

“I see.” He examined the arching stems. “You really are caught, aren’t you?” His lips twitched.

“If you laugh, I’ll…make you sorry,” Flora promised. Plato made one of his odd grumpy gargling sounds. “And you! I’ll find a badger and hand you over to him.”

Robert choked. “So, would you say you’re in need of rescue?”

“Just get me out!”

Robert moved a few steps closer. He could see that the thorns had barbs like fishhooks, ready to rip and tear if not removed very carefully. There was a trickle of blood on Flora’s neck. After a moment of calculation, he eeled between two branches. He had to stop once and detach thorns from his sleeve before he reached her side.

“These things are diabolical,” she said. “When I turned to pull loose, they seemed to…sort of lunge at me.”

“Stay very still.”

“I know!” She let out a huff of breath. “I beg your pardon. This is…rather irritating.” She smiled an apology.

Robert felt a catch in his chest, as if his heart had stumbled briefly. “Right then. Move back, Plato,” he said. For once, the little dog obeyed him, slipping easily out to a more open spot.

He began on the closest branch, embedded in the skirts of Flora’s pelisse. He had to kneel to reach it properly. His knife was small for the tough fibers. The bush swayed as he sawed at the branch. A spray of thorns rasped across his hair, but didn’t catch hold.

Robert soon pricked his skin. There was no way to hold the branch still without being stuck, and he’d left his gloves indoors when he’d seen Plato shoot wildly out of the bushes and then go haring off again.

Blood made the blasted thing slippery. Robert got out his handkerchief, used it to wrap the branch, and went back to work. At last, he was through. The severed stem sprang back a little, he was glad to see, giving him a few inches of working room. He looked up. “One down,” he said with a smile.

The heated gaze he encountered went through him like a thunderbolt. He was suddenly acutely aware of his position, right in among her skirts. His shoulder rested against her thigh. The scent of her—flowery perfume and sheer female—enveloped him.

“You’ve hurt yourself,” she said.

“It’s nothing.” Intensely aroused, Robert eased to his feet. Flora smiled at him again. Her fierce blue eyes raked him. He knew, absolutely, that she was remembering their kisses.

The next branch was wrapped around her far sleeve. He had to press close to her to avoid the briars at his back as he reached for it. And stay there while he cut through the stringy fiber of the bramble. The feel of her—curve of breast and hip, her cheek resting on his chest—made him clumsier. At one point a thorn drove deep into the pad of his index finger, and he stifled an oath.

Flora was having trouble breathing. She could feel his heartbeat, so near her ear, accelerating in tandem with her own. She could feel his muscles shift against her as he cut at the brambles. If she looked up, carefully, she could see his face—handsome, intent. The lips that had thrilled her were only inches away. But she couldn’t move enough to offer her own again. She had to remain very still, plastered against him.

Buy the Book:
https://www.janeashford.com/booklist/nld/

 

JANE ASHFORD, a beloved author of historical romances, has been published in Sweden, Italy, England, Denmark, France, Russia, Latvia, and Spain, as well as the United States. Jane has been nominated for a Career Achievement Award by RT Book Reviews. She lives in Los Angeles, California.

 

Social Networking Links:
Website: http://www.janeashford.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JaneAshfordWriter/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/842700.Jane_Ashford

 

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New Release Review! SEX GOD by Marie Force

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SEX GOD
by Marie Force

A Standalone Contemporary Romance!

 

Book Blurb:

A sizzling hot stand-alone contemporary romance!
I inherited a life I never intended to live.
I’ve upheld my responsibilities admirably.
And I’ve taken care of my own needs privately…
I’m biding my time until I can get the hell out of here.
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With one of my very best friends…

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A sweet and sexy friends-to-lovers story!

I loved how the story began–Garrett and Lauren have been friends since the sixth grade, and close friends since adulthood. They tried–and spectacularly failed–to take things to the next level six months earlier, and Garrett, the legendary-but-secret (he thinks, since he only sleeps with tourists…you’d think he’d know better, living in a small town all of his life) “sex god” of Marfa, Texas is obsessed with his one and only fail between the sheets and determined to make it all better. So he devises a plan…

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AUTHOR INFORMATION:

Marie Force is the New York Times bestselling author of more than 50 contemporary romances, including the Gansett Island Series, which has sold nearly 3 million books, and the Fatal Series from Harlequin Books, which has sold 1.5 million books. In addition, she is the author of the Butler, Vermont Series, the Green Mountain Series and the erotic romance Quantum Series, written under the slightly modified name of M.S. Force. All together, her books have sold more than 5.5 million copies worldwide!

Her goals in life are simple—to finish raising two happy, healthy, productive young adults, to keep writing books for as long as she possibly can and to never be on a flight that makes the news.
Join Marie’s mailing list for news about new books and upcoming appearances in your area. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter @marieforce and on Instagram. Join one of Marie’s many reader groups. Contact Marie at marie@marieforce.com.

AUTHOR LINKS:
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